Poet Patrick Deeley has written a beautiful memoir about growing up in East Galway. The Hurley Maker’s Son has been hailed for its evocative prose, and for its moving celebration of life in rural Ireland in the 1960s.
As a child, Deeley was something of a misfit in his family: a loner, a dreamer, and somewhat melancholic, a mood that suffuses the memoir.
Some nights, however, a sudden sadness would touch me right in the place where my heart was and I’d put my hand there and feel the steady thump, and wonder what dying meant.
Deeley’s father, Laurence tried to impart his carpentry skills to the boy, without much success. While he could not master the bandsaw or lathe, however, Deeley was obsesses with the language of his father’s workshop, where his father would talk of the bas of a hurley or the felloes of a cartwheel, of spoke-shales and augurs and planes and routers.
His father’s language was in contrast to his mother’s. Mary Deeley was a farmer, and as such her speech was peppered with farm phrases and old Galway idioms.
Deeley has recollected all of this in The Hurley Maker’s Son, a moving elegy to a lost way of life, to the landscape that formed him as a poet, and to his late father (Laurence was killed at an early age when a tree he was felling struck him).
Donal Ryan calls it “a glorious book, a perfect elegy, a gorgeous tumble of memories of life, death, love and, above all, family”, while Theo Dorgan writes that “there is something both eerie and deeply convincing about Deeley’s re-inhabiting of the landscape that formed him, the family that shaped and nourished him.”
I had the chance to interview Patrick Deeley ahead of his appearance at this weekend’s Hay Festival Kells.
The interview is on the Irish Times website here.
Patrick Deeley will be reading from The Hurley Maker’s Son on Saturday, June 25th, at 6.30pm at the Presbyterian Church in Kells as part of the Hay Festival Kells.